Today I was in bed with the stomach flu. I hadn’t had any food stay in my stomach for about 48 hours. I was laying in bed- sometimes dozing, sometimes drinking Gatorade, and sometimes reading a book about a sheep chase in Japan when I heard a grunting noise come across the baby monitor from the barn. I got myself out of bed, threw a sweater and boots over my pajamas and went out there. Initially there was nothing amiss- the ewes were just standing there. I was thinking about going back to bed when Wink- a first time bred ewe- started straining and grunting hard. I watched her through two contractions, saw barely two feet sticking out. She made no progress so I climbed into the pen. I tugged on those feet and saw a nose. I was really concerned that the seemingly large lamb had already died but I pulled some more. The head seemed huge but I was able to pushed the vulva back and pull the lamb’s legs until we got the head out. The rest of the body came easily. It was a large brown lamb and he was alive. I helped clean out his mouth and nose, went to get a towel and iodine. I dried him more with the towel and then sat down in the straw exhausted.
Wink was cleaning him up and he was started to stand already when she strained and popped out a lamb still in it’s sack. She wasn’t making any efforts to attend to it, so I opened up the sac and a tiny thin brown lamb was there. I clean out out it’s nose and mouth and dried it off. I wasn’t sure it was going to make it being so small and the mother still wasn’t showing it any interest. I stayed with it sitting in the straw exhausted until it stood and I got it to nurse. I wasn’t worried about the first lamb at all. I put iodine on the two cords and in the process discovered the first large one is a ram lamb and the small second one is a ewe lamb. I named them Fred and Wilma. I was too tired at this point to do anything more so I went into the house- took off my bloodied sweater and took a 2 hours nap. I went back out after that and a very pregnant ewe was trying to claim the two lambs. I took the two lambs into a separate lambing pen but Wink didn’t follow- only Gwynneth the interloper was trying. So I caught Wink and physically had to lead her to the new pen with her lambs. I collected hay, grain and water for her. The little lamb Wilma didn’t seem to have as full of a stomach and was unsteady on her feet. I tried to get her to nurse for a while without any success. I gave her some Nutri-Drench which didn’t seem to make a difference except Wink licked the extra off of her lamb. I then caught Wink and milked some colostrum into a bottle (not an easy task!). I then bottle fed Wilma. That seemed to help. I went back to bed. When Tom came home from work he checked on them and they are doing well. Both Fred and Wilma are nursing well, are walking around well, and have full tummies. I’m just grateful I was home sick otherwise I don’t think they would have made it and Wink may not have either. It’s interesting how things just work out sometimes.
We had triplet lambs for the first time ever yesterday morning. We went out to do the animal chores at 5:30 AM and found these beautiful three lambs. It warmed my heart to see them after so many days waiting for them. Goliath is the panda eyed spotted one- his markings are quite striking- I’m really hoping he’ll keep them. Little George is white with small black spots and striking dark eyes. I named him after a wether name George that I knew who lived on another farm. He was the friendliest little wether. He met an untimely death though but I’ll always remember him. Then there’s Gwendolyn the grey and black spotted ewe lamb- she’ll likely turn to a grey color like her mother.
Last night was a rough night. I had been in the bedroom putting things away. Then I took a shower. I returned to the bedroom 10 minutes later and I changed into pajamas. Then I heard the sound of a ewe screaming on the baby monitor in the barn. I threw on a sweater and a head lamp and ran out to investigate. I found Suzette, our grey ewe, contracting and pushing. I knew she had just started pushing and there were two feet visible in the correct position. I watched her closely for 30 minutes and she didn’t make any progress. So Tom held her and I felt to make sure the feet and head were in the correct position and I pulled on the legs. There was no progress, the head seemed to be stuck. I felt that there wasn’t much space for the head so I ran and grabbed the lamb puller to see if I could snag the had and front legs and pull the lamb out. I couldn’t get the loop around the head- it was a tight fit and Suzette was pushing hard against me. I gave up on the puller, pushed the lamb in a little. Tom was talking to the vet on his cell phone at this point. I managed to get my hand around the head and after a couple of tries was able to get the head and then the rest of the lamb out. We stimulated her and cleaned out her nose and mouth but no breaths. I gave mouth to mouth resuscitation. Initially I couldn’t get air into the lung. Tom ran to grab the stethoscope and bulb suction and then I was able to get air movement. We both listened for heart tones and there were none. We tried a little longer and then gave up. It was a black and white agouti ewe lamb. She was well formed and not too large. I think the ewe’s pelvis was just too small and this was her first (and last) lambing.
I felt inside the uterus- there was a placenta but no other lambs. I gave her some bute, some nutridrench and some penicillin. She was up eating and drinking shortly. This morning she had passed the placenta. She seems to be laying around more than usual but otherwise fine.
I spoke with the vet this morning when I brought in some kids to be disbudded. His only suggestions were that I should use lots of lubricant and not bother with the lamb puller- just use my own hands and grab the legs, jaw, and/or head and no worry about too much pressure. He said it was fine to wait 30 minutes- it allows for the cervix and vulva to stretch but he probably would have been impatient and pulled a little earlier. So Tom and I manage to (hopefully) save the ewe, and we did the best we knew how for the lamb. We’ve learned from the experience. But of course we’re sad too.
Last weekend we left town for a short vacation. I was really worried about leaving after our recent lambing experiences, but the day we left Magi, our yellow lab, wasn’t walking well. She’s had arthritis for a while and she has had good days and bad days, usually with the weather but Thursday was warm so I was surprised. So I was nervous and gave her an extra hug, petting, and food.
I was on two flights on Sunday and when I landed I got a cell phone message from Tom that Magi didn’t look good- like she was suffering and what to do. Tom didn’t want to make a decision without talking to me first. I certainly agreed it was time for Magi to be euthanized as she’s about 13 and obviously her pain is getting worse. I had to call the vet from my hotel room and tell her to put Magi down. I did kind of say good bye to Magi before I left, but I feel really bad that I wasn’t with her when she got sicker and was put down. We flew in late last night and picked up her body this morning. We buried her this morning.
Magi was a great dog. I got her as a companion for my golden retriever mix dog. Magi was very depressed and nervous when I got her but she gradually came out of her shell and became a happy, very nice, perfectly behaved dog. I hope I gave her a good life after whatever happened to her before she went to the pound. I’ll miss her terribly.
Today I went out to the barn in the morning and saw that iPod, one of the kids, was crying and hunched up. I brought her to the vet who thought that it was an abdominal problems, perhaps coccidiosis or enterotoxemia. She prescribed an antibiotic and Albon. When I got her home she tried to nurse on her mother but I noticed that the doe didn’t have much milk and seemed thin. I gave iPod and the other kids two feedings of milk replacer which they took well.. I think the problem is that I wasn’t feeding the does enough to support the increasing milk consumed. So I’ve increased the feeding for the does and will continue to supplement the kids with milk.
Then I sheared my remaining 4 sheep. These are the older sheep whose wool isn’t very good quality anymore and I figured they could use the extra warmth. The shearing went well.. Two of them are kind of thin so I separated them into a pen and will feed them extra. The grass is starting to grow more now in the field which is great.
Today I took it easy in the morning. I finished a blanket that I weaved and watched a couple of video movies while I did this. Then I did the animal chores. Amy and her family came by to see the baby goats. They bought Pixy and Trixie last year and are thrilled to have them. They really seemed to enjoy seeing all 11 baby goats- three of them are full siblings to their goats.
Then I sheared Daphnie. She’s a horned spotted Shetland ewe I sold last fall and was sold back to me now because of behavioral problems. She came back with a full nice fleece.
Then Tom and I went to the feed store and bought 10 bales of hay, 2 of straw, 8 bags of wood pellets, 2 bags of goat chow, 2 bags of sheep ration, 2 bags of chicken feed, and 2 bags of goat mineral salt. We stopped at a BBQ to pick up dinner on the way home. We were heading home when we hit a small bump in the road and lost three bales off the back of the truck. Two went into the road and one went to the side. We backed the truck up and brushed the hay off the road. There was a van going the other way at the time, and the driver told us he hit the bale but it came apart and he’s OK. We loaded up what we could and strapped them down good. We are of course mortified by this, but glad everyone’s OK.
We’ve been busy this last week! On Monday I trimmed all the goat (including the kids’) hooves and wormed off them as well. On Wednesday I got three rabbits ready for sale, had the farrier over to trim the donkey hooves, and had Carol over to “rent” three hens.
We took Saturday off the farm stuff but Sunday we marked out one of our property lines. We’ve had one neighbor clear over our line and another drop trees and concrete over our line and our fence. Now we have another neighbor building a house behind us and felled trees to the line. We just wanted to make the legal property line really obvious to them all. Next we’ll put up a fence just inside the line. I managed to fall off the back of the quad though while we were bringing the supplies up the hill, and I hurt my back.
On Sunday I sold three rabbits- the two babies born in January and one other. With that money I bought these two peacocks and pizzas to bribe my husband to drive all the way past Bellingham to pick them up Sunday when he was hungry and tired. I’ve wanted peafowl ever since one came to visit and lived with the chickens for about one month at my old place and then just as mysteriously as she came she hopped the 6 foot fence and left again.